It’s been a small piece of forever since I updated my Gadgets page. It’s not that I haven’t been buying gadgets — far from it — it’s just that I haven’t had time to experiment with them. The great interregnum was probably caused when I bought a Sony Minidisk player. I kept meaning to do a side-by-side comparison between it and my Sony DAT recorder (which I fully expected my DAT recorder to win, simply because it can record at 44.1 or 48 KHz [DVD quality or better] while the minidisk is limited to 32 KHz and below). I kept meaning to run this test, but never did. And now look how woefully behind the times I am.
So let’s get started so I can try and catch up.
First off, why not discuss my Sony Minidisk Walkman RZ-M900?\n Its benefits are its simplicity and its portability. At its best, it can record 74 or 80 minutes (depending on the minidisk used) of stereo audio; the record times can be lengthened by switching to mono recording or by using more compression. Sound quality suffers however, especially any extremes in bass or treble. The player is powered by a rechargeable Mi-MH stick, which helps keep the player’s design so thin. The battery lasts surprisingly long, and can even be augmented by a sandard AA battery which attaches to the bottom of the player.
Another neat feature is the abilty to create split recordings into tracks, and further to name these tracks so that the title will display in the player’s LCD window. Be warned though: I damaged the spring on the little selector toggle before my first day’s usage was through. In short, it’s a cool toy. It makes it quite easy to record anything. It’s half the price of DAT, but then again it’s almost half the quality.
Another fine gadget I bought is the Malata DVP-520 multiregion DVD player.
It has a built-in PAL/NTSC converter, which enables me to watch international titles. In fact, it can pretty much play anything: VCD, SVCD, CDRs with MP3s, NTSC or PAL DVDs, DVD-R and DVD+R.
There are rumors it can even handle DVD-Audio discs, but I believe that functionality has been removed. It may return though, since another nice feature of the Malata is that its firmware is upgradable.\n My favorite feature though is the zoom. Admittedly, zooming into or out of the DVD image is not as smooth as my former Toshiba SD-3109, but my favorite aspect of zooming is being able to zoom out out of the image, shrinking the picture so that the entire image is visible on my screen. It’s amazing how much picture information is lost by TV overscanning.
So whenever I watch a movie, the first thing I do is zoom-out so I can be assured I’m seeing as much of the theatrical image as possible! The Malata also has an X / Y conversion, meaning I can move the TV image to the left or right or up or down. Reportedly, This is to insure PAL discs are converted properly, but I’ve never needed to use it. The PAL conversion is quite good; motion is always smooth and never stutters. There is a shimmer to the image however, especially with videotape sources like concerts or TV series, but it can possibly be removed by chooing between video presentation styles (which can be done on the fly): SMART, MOVIE, CAMERA, or STILL. I usually stick with MOVIE and just live with the shimmer. Choosing others opens up a new can of worms, since then jagged interlacing anomalies show up. I’m told this does not happen the player is hooked up to one of the newer progressive-scan monitors (since the Malata can output in progressive scan), but not being able to afford a progressive scan TV I’ve been unable to test this.